Dr. Richard Horton, the editor of the English medical journal The Lancet, was not transformed by his visit to Israel last week.
Horton came to Israel last week the guest of Rambam Medical Center in a bid to dig himself out of the hole he dug himself into. On August 19 Horton published a 1,600-word letter criminalizing Israel. In it, Israel was accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. The authors called for a boycott of Israel, including Israeli academia. Since its publication on Lancet’s website, the letter has garnered 20,000 signatures.
The letter made no mention of the fact that the war this summer was initiated by Hamas through its illegal missile, mortar and rocket offensive against Israeli population centers. The esteemed medical professionals who wrote the letter failed to mention that Hamas’s operational headquarters was located in Shifa hospital in Gaza. And of course, they ignored the underlying fact that Hamas’s entire campaign against Israel was a crime against humanity.
Immediately following its publication, Prof. Gerald Steinberg, the head of NGO Monitor, exposed that the letter’s principal authors are frothing-at-the-mouth anti-Semites. Dr. Paola Manduca and Dr. Swee Ang disseminated a video entitled, CNN, Goldman Sachs & the Zio Matrix. It was produced by the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke.
As Britain’s Telegraph reported, in disseminating the video, Ang exhorted her audience to understand that the Jewish threat outlined in the video is a threat to humanity. In her words, it “is not about Palestine – it is about all of us!” For her part, as the Telegraph reported, Manduca has accused Israel of responsibility for the Boston Marathon bombing. And she disseminated an article comparing Israel to a “strangler fig,” which as the Telegraph explained, “grows around other trees and takes their sunlight, often resulting in the deaths of the original trees.”
Steinberg cataloged Horton’s long record of publishing anti-Israel slanders under the guise of a scientific research. Horton responded with indignation to the initial criticisms of his decision to publish the defamatory letter. He told the Telegraph that the anti-Semitic views of letter authors were “utterly irrelevant.” He called criticism of his decision to publish the letter, “a smear campaign.”
Horton then pledged not to retract the letter – which is still posted on Lancet’s website – “even if [criticism of the authors] was found to be substantiated.”
Yet as the outrage mounted against him, and the stench of the Jew hatred of his colleagues grew stronger, Horton began to feel the heat. So after refusing to publish a letter from Israeli doctors from Rambam rejecting the libelous attacks against Israel, Horton accepted Rambam’s invitation to come to Israel last week and learn firsthand how none of his allegations were true.
At the end of his three-day visit, Horton gave a lecture at Rambam where he condemned the Cossack-style Jew hatred of his colleagues Ang and Manduca. But despite his seeming contrition, Horton did not disavow their letter. He did not agree to remove the slander from The Lancet’s website.
Horton’s selective contrition was an expression of contempt for Israel, for his Israeli hosts and for their Herculean efforts over three days to demonstrate to him that Israel is good, not evil. Yet, instead of calling him on his obnoxious behavior, the heads of Rambam and other critics embraced him and praised his transformation.
As Dr. Anthony Luder, the director of pediatrics at Ziv Medical Center in Safed, wrote in a letter to The Jerusalem Post published Monday, “In what looks like an academic version of the Stockholm Syndrome, my esteemed colleagues at Rambam Medical Center have only succeeded in throwing sand in the face of the medical community by providing legitimization for a hateful hypocrite and terrible scientist.”
Horton’s behavior is very much in keeping with what has become standard operating procedure throughout much of Europe today. First, attack Israel. If you get called on it, issue a clarification or a clearing-of-thethroat apology that does not contain any retraction of your falsehoods. For your willingness to rhetorically temper your mendacious allegations, you can expect to be forgiven by Israel and those who care about truth in your country.
Consider the new Swedish government’s behavior.
During his inaugural speech last Friday, the new Social Democrat Swedish prime minister, Stefen Lofven, announced that his government will recognize the non-existent State of Palestine.
Israel rightly responded angrily to his statement, noting that the reason no peace accord has been signed between Israel and the Palestinians is because the Palestinians have scuttled and prevented negotiations for the past five years.
In the face of Israel’s angry rebuke of Lofven’s statement, the Swedish Embassy in Tel Aviv issued a clarification saying that Sweden supports a negotiated settlement and values its ties with Israel. Ambassador Carl Magnus Nesser told Army Radio that the remark was simply made to jump-start peace talks.
Lofven’s statement was not notable because he revealed himself as a fan of Palestinian terrorists who refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist. That’s been Sweden’s policy for decades.
What was notable about Lofven’s statement is that he made it in his inaugural address to the Swedish Parliament.
What this means is that in Sweden, supporting the Palestinians against Israel is not a foreign policy issue. It is a domestic policy issue.
As Benjamin Weinthal documented in Monday’s Post, Swedish Social Democrat politicians with no connection to foreign policy have long records of vilifying Israel and condemning Jews that insist on supporting the Jewish state. Lofven’s government reflects this anti-Israel, and frankly anti-Semitic trend.
Lofven appointed Turkish-born Green Party politician Mehmet Kaplan to serve as urban planning and environment minister in his government. Three years ago Kaplan participated in the illegal, pro-Hamas Turkish flotilla to Gaza as a passenger aboard the Mavi Marmara terrorist ship. In a rally over the summer, he used jihadist language and called for the “liberation of Jerusalem,” and the “liberation of Palestine.” Kaplan has likened Swedish jihadists who travel to Iraq and Syria to fight for Islamic State to Swedish freedom fighters who fought against the Soviets in Finland during World War II.
Other leading politicians in the Social Democratic Party have traveled to Israel and participated in riots against IDF forces.
In other words, Swedish politicians have identified anti-Israel activism as a potent tool for garnering domestic support. This is why Lofven spent so much more time discussing it in his inaugural address than he spent discussing the killing fields in Syria and Iraq, for instance.
But just as Horton wasn’t willing to be lumped together with his Ku Klux Klan-supporting comrades, so the Swedes aren’t willing to admit that their hostility towards Israel owes to domestic considerations that have nothing to do with what Israel does.
Horton’s phony contrition and the Swedish embassy’s “clarification” flow from the same source. And they tell us something about what is happening in Europe and how we need to deal with Europe as it transforms itself before our eyes.
Europe is abandoning the ideals of the Enlightenment, and embracing authoritarianism and irrationality.
But it isn’t willing to admit what it is doing. As a consequence, it is possible to harken to those ideals to shame Europeans for their irrational bigotry and so slow the process down.
Horton will no doubt revert to open defamation of Israel in due time. The Swedish government will similarly attack us in due course.
But forcing them to slow down is important.
Whether or not Europe’s downward spiral is unstoppable is irrelevant for Israel because what is clear enough is that if Europe decides to abandon its current path, it won’t be because of anything Israel does.
Facing this situation, Israel must be guided by two goals as it confronts Europe. It needs to stop caring about what Europeans think of it, and it needs to reduce as much as possible its exposure to the European market.
On the latter issue, unless something fundamental changes, it is undeniable that at some point in the next 10 to 15 years, Europe will join the Arab League’s boycott of Israel. Israel needs time to develop alternative markets for its exports.
On the former issue, Europe’s main non-economic weapon against Israel today is the fact that the Israeli public and particularly Israel’s elites still care what Europe thinks of us. Israelis need time to understand that European hatred for Israel has nothing whatsoever to do with anything Israel does.
The article was originally published in the Jerusalem Post